Free And Public — Why Libraries Are Great

Now that we are back home, I want to say “thank you” to the friendly folks at the Leelanau Township Library in Northport, Michigan.

The Leelanau Public Library in Northport, Michigan

When Kish and I were up in Michigan we regularly used the Leelanau library wireless system to access the internet, review e-mail, and keep in touch with the outside world.  The library has four computer terminals as well as a big indoor table where a number of people can plug in their laptops and work.  Even better, the library has created an outdoor seating area where people with laptops can do the same — even when the library itself is closed.  Every day we visited the library it was busy with people using the internet access areas. The internet access areas were incredibly easy to use, open to anyone who appeared with their laptop, and free.

The Leelanau library, though small in size, is a powerful example of how libraries can make nice communities even more attractive.  Kish and I loved the Northport area, and the town’s excellent library was a big part of the reason why.

The Northport Promise

Kish and I have spent some time in Northport, Michigan on our vacation, and you can’t go into a local business without seeing a collection receptacle and a sign for the “Northport Promise.”  It turns out that the Northport Promise is a tuition assistance program for students of local schools, to help them attend Michigan public colleges and universities.  In 2010 seven Northport students received full or partial Northport Promise scholarships, and since the first scholarships were awarded in 2008 the program has provided $71,000 in tuition assistance to local college students.

What a great concept and program!  Kish and I have frequented some of the local businesses supporting the program and have made some donations to the Northport Promise.  It is wonderful to see a local community and local businesses band together, develop their own program to achieve the important goal of providing opportunities to local youth, and then see their plans successfully realized.  It just goes to show that we don’t need government to direct every activity and program, and that well-meaning private citizens who work together can have a real positive impact on their communities.